Smart Government: ICT Enabled Social Engagement in Public Organizations

An SSIT Guest Blog provided by: Carlos E. Jiménez; Open & Smart Gov Specialist, IEEE SSIT Sr. Member; Barcelona, Spain.

In a broad sense, we usually use e-Government concept as the ICT adoption by public organizations as helpful tool in order to improve the way they achieve their goals. Key elements in these organizations are elements like efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and citizen-centric oriented.

However, it is important to say that in a more specific sense, there are important differences when we talk about its degrees and elements within this field. Then, we could talk on 4 distinct concepts: e-Administration, e-Government (in a more specific sense), Open Government and Smart Government. These stages are incremental where ICT transform the public organizations at the same time as they produce better services to citizens.

In the table, we can see that e-Administration started with the ICT adoption addressed to automatize workflows in public organizations (1st stage, -Bureaucratic organization) and, later, the e-Government stage (2nd stage, -Professional organization) includes interaction between citizens through the use of electronic tools, as well as bi-directional flows of information allowing citizens to use e-services. Next, technologies contribute and facilitate the move to a 3rd stage (Relational organization) where -Open Government- is achieved, allowing a high degree of the governance paradigm and not only through the use of e-services. In this stage there is a participation of the society in decisions and processes that before, were mainly done exclusively by the organization. A 4th stage and type of public organization (Intelligent organization) after the Relational one, would be based in the optimized IT adoption degree, and how it can transform the public organization as well as society.

Organization  Modernization Level ICT Role
1. Bureaucratic Begin Automatized Workflows  (e-Administration)
Benefit: increased internal efficency
2. Professional Middle Citizenship Interaction (e-Government).
Benefit: efficient public services (filing forms…)
3. Relational Advanced Citizenship participating in governance (Open Government).Benefit: Paradigm of governance
4. Intelligent Optimal:
Adopted completely Interoperability principle and Open Innovation as tool
Interconnected Ecosystem (Smart Government)Benefits: real time, data driven – integration of information, Public-Private-People Partnership…

This 4th “refined” public organization level, would be achieved as a result of ICT as tool that is being used in perfect harmony with: a) Open Government b) the Social & Open Innovation in public organizations and c) a maximized Interoperability Principle [this concept is expanded in a special issue of IEEE Computer Magazine, Oct 2014]. The concept of Smart Government, then, will have all these factors, and the social implications of technology are being key here.

Indeed, we have to understand that territories and cities only will be smarter if and only if are more social, through thinking in the best options for their citizens, specially, avoiding negative impacts of technology. To get a sense for how this looks in practice see, in the case of Barcelona,

What areas of government in your territory are starting to move towards the “Smart Government” level?


2 thoughts on “Smart Government: ICT Enabled Social Engagement in Public Organizations

  1. A very good analysis. The inclusion of public opinion and the value of public participation in open government is the need of the hour. Sustainable Development, Improved Quality of Life can only be achieved if the stakeholders become a part of the governance process.

    The stress on ICT should also include the use of Social Media and access from mobile platforms. The need to use open systems and particularly open data must be the cornerstones of this effort.

    • Dear Arup,
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      You are right. Indeed, it is already included. I mean that when we talk on Open Government or even on e-Government in a broad sense, there are included concepts as “Government 2.0″ or “m-Government”, where the tools that you mention (social media, mobile platforms) are, more and more, key tools, because it is way to have closer public services via these electronics channels. Indeed we should think about it as “channel”.

      Taking advantage of your mention about social media, an important challenge here is that government understand that Social Media is not only a way to “marketing” to spread the governmental actions, but also a true way to get the needs of their citizens. I mean that from this perspective, governments usually have pitfalls with Social Media (if we think about the best way that they could use these tools, in order to looking for a true participation of the citizen and a true “inclusion of the society”. It should be oriented to the governance paradigm.
      What do you think?

      Thanks again and best regards,

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